Fact or fiction: NC’s small towns are dying? 

Despite what you might have heard, small towns are alive and well in North Carolina.

In a prior post, I provided an overview of how the populations of North Carolina municipalities have changed since 2010.  We continue to see tremendous gains in our largest cities and rapidly growing suburban and exurban communities nearby. However, most North Carolina municipalities are small, and many are located far away from major urban centers.

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Considered a rural state for most of its history, North Carolina has become increasingly urban. But does that mean we are an urban state and our rural areas are waning? Not exactly.  

The urbanization of North Carolina holds true regardless of how one defines rural and urban. One definition of urban and rural is simply the population living within incorporated villages, towns, or cities (municipalities) - defined here as “urban” – and the population living “out in the country” or in unincorporated areas –  defined here as rural.

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Four years ago, pine trees and farmland covered most of a 270-acre area just west of Apex, North Carolina.  The land was slated to be developed into a mixed residential community with single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments to meet the burgeoning demand for housing in the Raleigh-Durham Area.  The residents moving to the development would need and want access to public services comparable to the communities around them. The answer, as is often the case in high-growth areas, was annexation into the town of Apex. 

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